Monday Press Conference: Bo Ryan

Basketball coach talks about Butch, his seniors and Michigan

Coach Ryan would be very pleased to take any questions you have.

"Not about anything stress-related like I was asked today earlier. The guy made me nervous."

I'll have to think of something else. I was going to ask about that, that you talked about you like to think about things that, how you can improve your team while you're doing that. Is there anything specifically that you're thinking about now after the Illinois game?

"Well, if we clue everybody in here, what he's referring to is he asked about specifically stress-related things that happen health-wise, and I didn't know if he meant, you know, if getting the flu meant that your resistance was down, and so that was stress-related, or bronchitis or anything else. But he said no, specifically a couple coaches that have had heart palpitations. I thought he was asking because it was Valentine's Day at first.

"And I just kind of said, well, you know, when asked about, and you put it now how do you feel about the Illinois game, the question about stress was, or the relationship to a coach and stress is if you're not prepared, you know, you might not always have healthy players, the best talent. Not every team has that and there's different levels. But the most important thing is that you're trying to get that team that you're coaching at that particular time better. So you worry about, if you call it worry, but you concern yourself with getting your team better.

"I think a lot of coaches stress out, or get the stress-related illnesses that he was referring to, when you really start worrying about things that you don't have any control over, you know, how good the other team is. Well, you have somewhat control over how good the other team is if your guys, get your guys to play a little bit better and a little smarter and a little tougher.

So I look at Illinois and, you know, I think our guys can play. I think they're working at it. I think they're giving us a great effort. But right now Illinois is a little bit better than, you know, and I can say that, and not just because they're ahead of us in the standings, but because they've proven it against everybody that they've come up against.

"So it's, I think the best thing to do is, no matter what point of the season it is, the last half of the Big Ten, first half, non-conference, is you're working with your team. Do the best you can with your team. And try to get them playing off of one another. Try to keep anything from tearing that apart or dividing. And I've been very, very fortunate as a coach to not have problems like that. And I think that's, that at least gives us a chance."

Bo, the last three games your team's had more turnovers than assists. And, you know, those are just the numbers. But I'm just wondering, when you look at the tapes of the games, how do you assess your players' ability to move the ball and find the open man right now?

"Well, first of all, an assist is tough to get in some places. There are universities that'll give you an assist if the basket was made 15 seconds later, after the individual made about five moves. So I don't get, I gave up a long time ago even worrying about that if you're being efficient, that one point per possession thing.

"The other thing is we're getting some attacks to the basket where if a guy blows by on a wing, Kam Taylor is, every one of those baskets that Kam has picked up driving to the hoop, beating the guy, those are unassisted. So you don't panic. Sometimes when a guy catches it in the post, does a Sikma move, squares up, makes a counter move, boom and scores, there's not a guy getting an assist for that. So I'm not concerned."

The point per possession, how was that against Illinois?

"About as high as you can get without getting a W, 0.98 something, and they were 1.1 something. So the assessment after the game didn't change. A couple less turnovers, a few more free throws, and don't, and they don't hit a couple of those long three's as the shot clock expires, you've got a heck of an opportunity. And we didn't even have to shoot Georgetown numbers, or Villanova numbers against Georgetown, which was 72 percent, I believe. Did it end up 78 percent? I don't think so. Wait a minute, we've got a side one going up here. Can anybody get on their laptop or anything, Georgetown-Villanova, Lexington, Kentucky, 1985? If you can, just for kicks."

Have you had, when did you last talk to Brian (Butch) and how's he doing and just . . .

"That's the best thing. So we didn't want to bother him too much. I'm not allowed to send flowers, not allowed to send anything. He's a student athlete. Anybody here ever had mono? I've known people that have and it just makes you feel like not doing anything. So it'd be kind of hard to have him practice."

Bo, I realize, I'm sure the guys are practicing and working hard every day on free throws, but is there anything that you can pinpoint one reason or another maybe why the team as a whole has struggled percentage-wise from the free-throw line?

"Actually, we haven't. Our total, you take what we did Wednesday, save a couple of those and use them on Saturday, it just, it's feast or famine sometimes. That's all."

"Question about Mike Wilkinson. Obviously when people talk about Mike, the No. 1 thing they bring up, at least from what I've heard, is that he's a hard worker. If you take his hard work out of the equation, from what you've seen of him these last four years, what do you admire about Mike and the way he goes about things?"

"That'd be a question more towards the end of his career. He's got a lot of games to play. You know, I talk to him about different things. He's a player who's committed to being successful and to playing on a team that's successful. That's always the thing that stands out with Mike. But usually when you start answering those kind of questions, the guy's hanging it up. I'm not talking that way."

Well, another question about Mike. A week ago you were running down nicknames of guys you had, you know, you knew from way back. If you were to lay a nickname on Mike, does one come to mind?

"If he happened to move into Chester (Penn.), because a guy like Mike you don't find in Chester, but if he'd have moved into Chester or there was some kind of program where he could pick his own high school and came in, our guys in the neighborhood would call him Green Acres, absolutely. It'd be Green Acres."

Is Brian able to go to class with is ailment, I mean, since they said it was infectious?

"Today would be the first day. He went home last week. When the clear date would be, you'd have to wait until our SID releases his official notification."

Is there, the last couple games with Clayton's opportunities, are teams paying special or extra attention to him, do you think?

"Yeah, they are. And they've even said it. So that's okay. He still competes on the other end. He makes some good decisions with the ball. He takes the charges. He works guys off of the screens. We just needed a little bit more help from our bigs Saturday, a couple breakdowns there that we'll work on."

Coach, I don't know if you can answer this, but is there any chance that you may lose Butch for the rest of the year?

"Oh, I have no idea. I'm not, there's been so few cases of mono lately as far as my knowledge of players and stuff, I don't know how long it takes. It used to be that, I can remember decades ago that if you had mono it was a long period of time. Of course, that might have been because it was Wilkes-Barre and, you know, being a coal-mining area and everything, the air might not have been as pure and it probably hurt their rehab."

You don't play a lot of would've, should've, could've. You always talk about playing with whoever's out on the floor. But, you know, other teams might put a little bit more experience, like an Illinois, or more talent on the floor, but your guys might lead the league in maturity. Could you talk a little bit about that maturity and how your players have stepped into new roles this year and have handled them fairly well, and how they've managed to sidestep the injury and other issues that sometimes distract other teams but yours still manage to win?

"Well, if you take a look at how everybody ended up being where they are just on the senior class, you know, you've got a guy in Mike Wilkinson who had parents that didn't want to let him play with the AAU team that I had mentioned before when he was younger because they didn't want him too far away from the farm, Vegas, for an AAU tournament. But he was allowed to go, and I remember watching him out there. He played for Pete Brey with that team, and Louis Monroe, Kennedy. And it was kind of interesting to see him out there, you know, like a fish out of water at first, and then just to see him grow over his years here.

"Clayton Hansen, to see what he's gone through just to be in the position that he's in now, what he sacrificed. Sharif Chambliss, what he sacrificed to be where he is right now, and what he's coming off of with the ACL surgery. Take a look around the league and tell me all the guys who had complete knee surgery, the whole, not just a little tear or anything like that, that had the surgery that Sharif's had and is still contributing the way he is. Zach Morley, how he went the junior college route because he felt he could end up at a bigger school and a bigger conference or a place maybe he really wanted to be, and he ends up being here.

"So when you say maturity, I like the seniors that we have. Andreas Helmigk. You know, it's not easy coming from another country and coming here. So when you talk about maturity, those guys have been through a heck of a lot more than most other people who are seniors at other universities, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. And they're working hard.

"Everybody wants to talk about limitations or what guys can't do, and I've always as a coach been, okay, what can we do, what can we do, what can you guys contribute, what do you have, let's give it. But, yeah, just take a look at that senior class and see how they got here. It's kind of an interesting phenomenon to me, because you certainly can't look at anybody else's roster in the league and see a group like that and what they've been through. So, in other words, they don't discourage easily. That's it. They don't discourage easy."

You talked Saturday a little bit about Luther Head's hesitation dribble. You were just talking now about what you like to talk about what can you do. So what can you do to work on containing a dribble like that.

"Well, this goes live so I'm not saying here. So, but there are things that we can improve on."

As far as Michigan goes, again without giving a scouting report, (Daniel) Horton played the last time you played them, but he hasn't since. Just what have you seen from them recently that's maybe, I don't know, different because he's not there?

"Well, (Chris) Hunter's back. Hunter does a lot of good things. He'll help them. I mean, he's helped them some. You know, it's still about the tendencies of a team. And we'll prepare the same way we normally do, and if someone isn't there it really doesn't change a lot that you do, because he's subbed for also during the game. So you say, okay, when this guy's in the game, these are his strengths, these are his weaknesses. Sometimes when you do that though and you play off of certain guys, it's amazing. It turns around and comes back to haunt you. But you have to play percentages. And you can adjust during the game. There's a lot of times I like the way our players adjusted on their own, even before we had to say anything."

Coach, what'd you get your wife for Valentine's Day?

"A long time ago we decided it's conversation. We tell each other what we feel about each other and a hug or two. And a good meal at home. Appreciate the kids, appreciate what we have. And that's, you know, that's better than any words written by somebody else on a card to us. And if you have stock in Hallmark, that's too bad."

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